Woundwort led his rabbits on for days in search of a new warren, picking up prisoners from other warrens along their journey. He had thought about what Silverweed had said before they had left Shining Wire Warren and begun the journey for a new home. When a fox had attacked a doe and her kittens Woundwort had leapt onto the animal and killed it while his rabbits watched. When a young buck named Thorn cut his foot open on a rock Woundwort slowed his rabbits pace so that Thorn could keep up. Woundwort noticed that doing these acts of kindness made him feel good and he noticed that his rabbits began to respect him including the prisoners he had taken by force from other warrens.
Days slid into weeks that slid into months as they searched for a home of their own where they could start over. During this time Woundwort had formed officers and corporals in his Owsla and trained his rabbits how to fight. To his surprise Harmony began to take a liking to him as Silverweed had said she would. This pleased him and made him the happiest he had ever been in his life.
Lying next to Harmony beneath a thorn bush Woundwort slept, his peaceful breathing causing his body to rise and fall. His dream was of Harmony and snuggled next to her were four newborn kittens while he stood over her smiling at his family. A smile appeared on his face as he dreamed when it was suddenly interrupted by a voice.
“Woundwort. The threads of darkness are lifting from your soul but I see that there is still evil inside you. You will have a battle with your enemies and you will lose. However due to the kindness and respect you are gathering from your new rabbits and the love you are showing Harmony I have a gift for you.”
“Who are you?”
“Prince Rainbow. Lord Frith is not pleased about the violence you forced on the rabbits in Efrafa and that is why he had you defeated on Watership Down. But you did those rabbits in Shining Wire Warren a favor by killing Cowslip. They are slowly relearning the ways of El-ahrairah and how to be wild rabbits. Lord Frith sees that you have some goodness inside you. Therefore he is allowing me to restore your sight in your blind eye and remove some scars from your body. I have seen your dream Woundwort and whether that comes to pass depends if you can let go of your hatred and anger. I will visit you again when the time is right.”
A black mist covered him as he cowered before Prince Rainbow and then was gone.
“AHH!” Woundwort shouted jerking his head up. He blinked his eyes and then blinked them again. His vision was hazy at first and then it cleared and he realized that he could see! “So seeing Prince Rainbow and getting my eyesight back was real?”
Harmony looked at him and placed a paw on Woundwort’s. “What is it Woundwort?”
“Harmony I think I saw Prince Rainbow in a dream.”
“What did he say?” Seeing Prince Rainbow in a dream meant that good things would happen or that the rabbit was blessed.
“He gave me back my sight in my left eye and healed some scars on my body. He said I had the power to change from bad to good and that I would again fight my enemies and lose. He said Lord Frith is angry with me because of how I ruled Efrafa but that I did the rabbits of Shining Wire Warren some good by killing Cowslip.”
“Then trust in Prince Rainbow’s message Woundwort and he will lead you right.”
Woundwort nuzzled Harmony and crawled out from under the bush with Harmony beside him. Mayberry and Stone, two rabbits that he had sent out to scout for a possible home two days ago, were nibbling on grass.
“Mayberry and Stone I’m glad to see you both arrived back in one piece.”
“Thank you Woundwort-rah,” they said. “We think we have found a likely location for the warren. Would you and Harmony like to come see?”
Woundwort turned to Harmony. “What do you think my dear?”
“Yes I’d love to see what has Mayberry and Stone so mysterious about.”
“Twinleaf,” Woundwort called as they passed the young buck.
“You’re in charge until we return. Make sure everyone stays close to the thorn bushes and use them for cover in case of danger.”
“Don’t worry Woundwort I’ll watch over everyone.”
Woundwort nodded and the four rabbits began the two day trek to what had captured Mayberry and Stone’s interest. They went through a small wood and swam a river before coming at last to what had attracted Mayberry and Stone. Before them stood a circle of stones.
“What type of thing is that?” Woundwort asked.
“I think it’s a man thing sir. But there is no scent of man here.”
“Then why bring us to this place if man built it?”
“Sir it was Prince Rainbow who showed us this place.”
Woundwort looked startled. “What did you say?”
Stone swallowed the lump in his throat but continued. “We were sleeping in the forest when Prince Rainbow appeared to us. The light that surrounded us woke us up before it dissipated and we saw a rabbit of many different colors standing before us. We just knew it was Prince Rainbow.”
Woundwort wouldn’t have believed it if he hadn’t just seen Prince Rainbow in a dream. He nodded his head for Stone to continue.
“We asked who he was and he said he was Prince Rainbow and that he was sent by Lord Frith to guide us to a place for a new warren. He showed us the path to take and then appeared before us when we reached this stone circle. He said the stone circle was built by man in the past and has lain forgotten but the stones were built to align with Lord Frith during spring and that man used to worship Lord Frith and nature itself here. There’s some type of magic that protects this man made creation from decaying. Prince Rainbow said that if we build a warren here then elil and enemy rabbits will never be able to harm us.”
Woundwort looked at Mayberry. “Do you have anything to add to Stone’s statement?”
Mayberry shook his head. “Nothing sir except that I think we should take Prince Rainbow’s advice. Prince Rainbow said that man hasn’t been here in centuries so we don’t have to worry about man. At afternoon silflay yesterday we were eating and heard a hawk’s cry. We looked up and saw a hawk come diving from the sky but then it appeared to have hit something and it fell like a stone before managing to beat its wings and fly away.”
“Did you see what it hit?”
“No sir that’s the strange thing. We felt a strange vibration in the ground beneath us and the air in front of us seemed to simmer as the hawk hit it. I think that whatever magic man gave to this place is protecting us from harm.”
Woundwort shook his head baffled at what he had just heard. But he figured it was best not to question Prince Rainbow. He could possibly lose Harmony if he didn’t trust Lord Frith’s messenger. “How far does this ‘magic’ extend?”
“It extends for about 30 yards in all directions. We’ve spent the last day testing the limits of the magical boundary.”
Woundwort did some quick thinking. If this magic extended thirty yards in all directions then they would have one hundred five yards of safety as long as they stayed within the magical boundaries. This would mean that there would be plenty of space to build up a new warren and there wouldn’t be the overcrowding issues like there had been in Efrafa.
“Okay let’s go and get the others and bring them here to start digging the warren. This warren will be known as Sunstone. Is that agreeable with you three?”
“Yes sir I think that suits the place perfectly,” Mayberry said and Harmony and Stone nodded. Four days later Woundwort’s rabbits reached the beginning of the magical boundary surrounding Sunstone. The rabbits stared in amazement at the stone circle and as they passed through the invisible magical barrier that surrounded their new warren their fear and worry fell away. They clustered together in the stone circle and watched in shock as a glowing white light appeared in front of them and then slowly faded to reveal a rabbit of different colors.
“Greetings Sunstone rabbits. Do not be afraid for I am Prince Rainbow. I am sure you noticed that your fears and worry slipped away as you passed through the magical barrier that protects this place. This is tied to magic that the ancient men who built this place and will protect you as long as you remain within the confines of the barrier. No elil, enemy rabbits or man will be able to harm. As a further protection from man, the magical barrier makes man unable to see this place or any of you within this barrier. However you will not be protected when outside the magical barrier which means elil, enemy rabbits and man can see and harm you. The magical barrier also has healing properties if you are part of this warren. So do not worry and be happy. I promise that Sunstone will live long.” With a flash of light Prince Rainbow was gone and the rabbits stood speechless.
After a few seconds the does set to work digging the warren. By silent agreement they agreed not to dig any holes in the circle of stones. They also found out that digging the warren did not harm the magic that permeated through the very air and ground at all. Rather the magic adjusted itself so that the inside of the warren was protected as well. The bucks worked to make sure the runs were interlocked together and took over for the does so they could rest and go above ground for silflay. A month passed before the warren was finished and the rabbits could move underground.
Woundwort called his rabbits together in the chamber that was underneath the stone circle. This chamber was big enough to house all the Sunstone rabbits for many generations to come. “I have decided I don’t want to be called Woundwort anymore. My name is now Lightstone.”
“Lightstone-rah! Lightstone-rah!” The rabbits cheered their chief. They thought it was a good name for a rabbit that had been blessed by Prince Rainbow and had saved them from Cowslip. Lightstone waited for their cheering to subside before continuing.
“I saw Prince Rainbow in a dream six days ago. He told me I would have a battle against my enemies and I believe those enemies are from a warren known as Watership Down.” The rabbits growled in anger. “He also informed me that I would lose the battle and that I still have evil in my heart but also that I have some goodness. I have come to realize since my defeat on Watership Down and almost being killed by the dog that was set upon my old warren that I have been wrong to force rabbits to obey by fear. I was full of anger and hate and let that cloud my judgment and cause my old warren to hate me and wish for my death in secret.
“I used to love war and death. What a fool I have been,” he shook his head. The Sunstone rabbits remained silent as they listened to their chief speak. “But as Harmony accepted me despite what I had done, with Silverweed’s talk we had after I saw Harmony and felt the first stirrings of love for her, and as I gained your respect and made friends with Twinleaf and Fern I realized that there is another way to live. A rabbit who runs a warren by fear is no leader. A rabbit who has rabbits that follow him out of love and respect, who has rabbits that would lay down their lives to protect their chief, who will listen to his rabbits when they are afraid, is a great leader and I hope that I can be that leader for you all.”
Sunstone was full of voices as the rabbits cheered their chief’s speech and stamped in applause. They were a bit troubled that they would go to war with Watership Down but if that made Lightstone-rah see the error of his ways and destroy the darkness inside him then they were okay with that. Along their journey Lightstone-rah had opened up to his rabbits about the way he was before being almost killed by the dog that the Watership rabbits had set upon him and of how he had ruled his old warren with an iron paw. Yet they also saw how gentle and loving he was towards Harmony and how he had behaved towards the kittens and hurt rabbits on their journey. Yes Lightstone was slowly changing but there would be one more hurdle he would need to pass to make the evil and darkness leave his being for good.